How Denver-area schools are handling remote learning in 2022

After one week of remote learning, Adams County School District 14 announced that starting Tuesday, January 18, all of the district’s schools would return in person.

DENVER — After one week of remote learning, Adams County School District 14 announced that starting Tuesday, January 18, all of the district’s schools would return to in-person learning.  

This return, they said, was a directive issued by the district’s external manager MGT Consulting. 

The state health department acknowledged the dedication to keep kids learning in schools on Thursday.

“We know that it’s really what is best for our kids, and we do have new guidance from CDC that is shortening the isolation and quarantine periods. And we know that that’s a really important tool to try and help keep kids in school and keep our school environments as safe as they can be in our kids’ learning,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. 

Not all school districts are making district-wide decisions on staying in-person or remote in light of COVID-19 cases and staffing shortages. 

Denver Public Schools said in a statement in part, “…we know that it is best for our scholar’s education and well-being to be in our schools every day. We are working with our schools and our public health partners to ensure that we can provide an in-person educational experience as safely as we can.”

To help with that, DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero announced last week that their Central Support staff would go into schools one day a week to support the shortages of school staff. 

DPS Spokesperson Scott Pribble said previously that staff at the district’s central office are typically not certified teachers but can help with other support staff positions. 

He also said that if a school goes remote, it won’t always mean that it involves the entire school; rather, it could be a specific class or grade level. 

Still, the uncertainty has some teachers exhausted. 

“Although they are learning better in person, they’re consistently stressing about a virtual option,” said Tim Hernández of his students. 

Hernández is an English and Ethnic Studies teacher at Denver North High School. 

“Absolutely, am I in favor of making sure that our students learn best? Absolutely. That’s why I’m a teacher. But I’m also interested in making sure that our students are safe and that our students are healthy,” he said. 

One of the main items he wants to be improved is better communication about the future and consistency in scheduling. 

“And I think that when we’re talking about policies in the way that we’re trying to make sure that we have a society that everybody can live in, we have to put the most policy making decision where the pain is most and the pain is most with our teachers,” he said. 

Rob Gould, the President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said staffing issues had created a sort of double-edged sword in that they want to stay open, but the staffing issues are hard on teachers. 

“Yes, that’s what we want most first and foremost, right? We want to be in-person with our kids, but it’s that challenge of not having enough staff,” he said Thursday. 

While he said teachers appreciate the staffing help that DPS has provided from their central office, Gould said that it doesn’t change the situation for teachers who teach core classes and may be absent. 

“It’s just kind of like a yes, it’s a help. But then if you’re still missing those core teachers, that’s where we have to make a decision. Like, is this really the best learning environment for kids? Could they actually get more? You know, if we did a remote and actually, you know, learn from the teacher in that remote setting for that temporary amount of time,” he said. “We want to be in person as much as possible. But, you know, if we have to move to these remote settings for a temporary amount of time, we hope the community can support us and be behind us through that.”

According to Denver Public Schools’ COVID-19 dashboard, there were 145 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. 

There were 490 confirmed cases among students. 

DPS spokesperson Scott Pribble said there were 636 teacher absences as of last Friday.

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